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May 25, 2012

3 Oils with Sealing Power!


by Nicole Harmon of Hair Liberty

As you know, water evaporates from coils and curls super quickly. If you don’t seal in moisture after washing your hair, you could end up with bone dry strands in less than an hour. To help your hair retain moisture, choose one of these oils that stand out from the rest because of their proven sealing power.

1) Mineral oil, also known as paraffinium liquidum, is the most effective oil for sealing moisture into the hair or skin. It’s obtained from drilling into the earth, which sounds nice, but everything that comes straight from the ground (including water), is actually pretty dirty. The Food and Drug Administration requires mineral oil to be refined and purified to remove impurities before it can be used in cosmetics or pharmaceuticals. Mineral oil works best to increase moisture retention because it’s made of hydrophobic/water insoluble compounds. That means when you seal with mineral oil, the water that absorbed into your hair when you washed has to work hard to escape past the “barrier” or “seal”. It will still get out (i.e. your hair will still become dry) but it will happen much more slowly than if the mineral oil wasn’t there. The downside of mineral oil is that it can leave a greasy feel.


2) Silicone oil aka dimethicone
Silicone is a type of synthetic oil made in science laboratories using silicon (a naturally occurring element found in sand) and oxygen. Dimethicone is a type of silicone that is used in different molecular weights. Higher weight dimethicone is thick and sticky and it’s used for industrial applications like sealing moisture away from bathroom tiles and walls. Lower molecular weight dimethicone is thin and it spreads easily; it’s used in personal care products to seal in moisture on the skin and hair. The silicon and oxygen in dimethicone make it slightly more water soluble than mineral oil which means it won’t help your hair stay moisturized for quite as long. The advantage that dimethicone has over mineral oil is that it’s more resistant to being rinsed off (but it washes off with sulfate-free cleansers) and it gives the hair a little bit more shine.

3) Shea Oil
Shea oil is the liquid form of shea butter and they both come from the nuts of the shea tree. The natural fatty acids in plant oils make them more water soluble than mineral oil and dimethicone which means they don’t create an effective “moisture gate”. Water will evaporate from your hair faster when you seal with shea oil (or butter) compared to mineral oil or dimethicone. However, of all plant oils, shea can trap the most moisture because it contains allantoin, a unique natural component that helps keratin cells hold on to water molecules. Shea oil will help your hair retain moisture but it’s less effective and more expensive than dimethicone and mineral oil.

Even the best sealing oils do not prevent moisture from escaping from your hair’s cortex, they just slow down how quickly moisture escapes. Next time you reach for a moisturizing product or head for the shower to wash your hair, take a moment to realize that water escaped from your hair despite your best efforts to keep it in. Your hair dries out even faster than your skin! The best strategy to combat dry hair is to re-moisturize at the first sign of dryness, even if that means every day. Seal in moisture with mineral oil, dimethicone, or shea oil to keep your hair smooth, soft, and shiny between washes.


Nicole Harmon is a Cosmetic Chemist and the Founder of HairLiberty.org. She has received rave reviews for her seminars on ethnic hair education and science. She's on a mission to help the Product Junkies of the world save MONEY, sort through marketing HYPE and buy SMARTER! Hair Liberty is the freedom to rock whatever style you want, whenever you want. Curly, straight, natural, relaxed, whatever! Free yourself!


What oils do you use to seal?

43 Chime in!:

Carla R. said...

Jojoba oil or Argan oil. Can't wait to read the responses of others.

Abby said...

jojoba because it's not tooo greasy . Is morrocan oil any good i've heard rave reviews!

Abstract said...

I like coconut oil and most recently castor oil. They make my hair super soft (especially the castor oil). I wonder if mineral will wash out well with my sulfate-free shampoo. I use SM thickening shampoo and being fine-haired, I don't want to give it up :)

Anonymous said...

I have found that coconut oil or shea butter does the trick for me.
Sugarberri

Caro said...

Mineral Oil? Silicone Oil? Really? What next? Sulfate shampoo's? Really! Castor Oil and Olive Oil for me. I have yet to try shea butter but I sure will.

watkinsabob said...

I've only tried coconut and olive so far. once i run out i'll try something else. i doubt i'll try the ones mentioned in this article though :-D

Anonymous said...

it takes too much work (shampooing with more harsher, drying shampoos then having to put the moisture back in) to deal with mineral oil and silicone oil. I guess it could work for some people who wouldn't mind. Never heard of shea oil, will do more research on it.

Either way thanks for not recommending the SAME 5 oils we always hear about. At least it's something different and it doesn't mean you HAVE to use what she suggested...

marianela said...

This is great news because I use to use mineral oil but I stopped because the word on the street was that it would clog my pores and hurt my scalp. I am glad that mineral oil is at least a good sealant because it use to do wonders in my hair and I didn't even know why.

Annie L. said...

Almost anything but straight Coconut Oil seals pretty well and doesn't leave me all snap, crackle and pop. I've used Japanese Camellia Kissi, Shea, Avocado, Andiroba, Wheat Germ, Watermelon Seed, Monoi de Tahiti, Olive, Cranberry Seed, Sapote, Safflower, Sunflower, blah, blah, blah. I have Olive Oil now so that's what I'm using, Lol!

I'm not fond of 'cones or Mineral Oil but I do remember them keeping my hair 'shiny looking' as a kid, they just no longer fit my lifestyle. Lots of info in the article, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Coconut Oil and Castor Oil

~Lexa~

Bridget said...

Castor oil and I have recently returned to using products that contain mineral oil. Initially when I started wearing my hair in its curly/kinky state, I used mineral oil based products and my hair thrived. After reading many negative things regarding mineral oil, I removed it completely from my regimen and my hair became excessively dry. I have reintroduced mineral oil and my hair feels and looks so much better. HHJ!

The Chocolate Loveliness That Is Fraña said...

I find it funny how a lot of naturals are against mineral oil and cones but they do work. I don't use these on a regular basis but when I am rocking a protective style I use my Organic Root Stimulator Coconut Oil hairdress to help keep my hair moisturized until I wash it out.

I mainly seal with coconut oil, jojoba mixed with vitamin E and Olive oil/grapeseed oil. But there are times I reach for my ORS and my hair is doing just fine...

Now that it is super hot and dry in AZ, I plan on using it more often because I will be wearing protective styles to save my hair from this harsh weather...

Bobby said...

If I dont use silicone filled hair product my relaxed ends (9 months post relaxing) will tangle, & get knots!

Bobby said...

@Chocolate Loveliness, you are absolutely correct! Its amazing how many naturals jump on the bandwagon "if it aint all natural products" they will do more harm then good. Thats complete bull, what do they think naturals did during the 70's? Grease and water, which is nothing but mineral oil!

Tina said...

Omg!! Was mineral oil listed number 1??? The natural police about to go crazy lol - honestly gotta try and determine what works for ya! Each head is different ... But damn mineral oil???? Lol

Www.youtube.com/misst1806

Tina said...

Omg!! Was mineral oil listed number 1??? The natural police about to go crazy lol - honestly gotta try and determine what works for ya! Each head is different ... But damn mineral oil???? Lol

Www.youtube.com/misst1806

Anonymous said...

I think I can speak for most of us when I say. We used mineral oil based products as youngster's, and our hair servived! #noharmdone

Now my perspective is, when you know better you do better! Not sayinig that it's wrong if some still choose to use mineral oils, etc. It's just that in my opinion there are so many new and improved products out now.

I choose not to deal with the greasyness (soul glow if you will)! I never liked it as a child, and I definately don't like it as an adult! #notformebuttoeachtheirown

No pun intended to anyone!

Anonymous said...

Meant to say survived!:)

RebellePuella said...

I'm using shea butter as of now, it works ok i guess!!..I ran out of my beloved coconut oil, my hair did really well with that stuff! Now I'm on the search to find some mineral oil (HELP: where can i get some??). #PJ

Anonymous said...

RebellePuella, You can find plenty of products with mineral oil in them. Just go to any local beauty supply store! But you can just as easily pick up coconut oil as well!You know, since you love it so much!:)

Kinkikw said...

I started out with olive oil, but it just made my scalp feel extra greasy. I switched to coconut oil, and I'm going to combine it with the Naturalista Cosmetics Juicy Leave-In conditioner once it comes in the mail! I'm super excited!!!

Annie L. said...

@ The Chocolate Loveliness That Is Fraña and Bobby

Not everything works for everyone. Cones and mineral oil may have kept my hair shiny in appearance as a child but I also remember them leaving my hair brittle and greasy as bacon.

Also, though all kinds of products work, some naturals lead natural, organic, or vegan lifestyles and we object to certain products and production methods for health and environmental reasons.

Just as I ate conventionally grown fruit as a child and most of it tasted good and I survived, as an adult I disagree with a lot of the methods and chemicals used to grow it and opt for organic.

Kinkikw said...

I started out with olive oil, but it just made my scalp feel extra greasy. I switched to coconut oil, and I'm going to combine it with the Naturalista Cosmetics Juicy Leave-In conditioner once it comes in the mail! I'm super excited!!!

Dana said...

On point Annie L., totally agree!

I like to seal w/ a mixture of jojoba, sweet almond, grapeseed, EVOO, and castor oil. This combo is also excellent on skin after a shower/bath and leaves skin with a wonderful non-greasy feel, sexy glow, and super soft!

Bobby said...

@Annie..EXACTLY!
All natural,organic may work for some & verse vica...when it comes styling and maintaining natural hair is trial & error...bottom line..
DO YOU, 'cause Im certainly going to do ME!

Anonymous said...

Awesome article. I typically seal freshly (bonnet) dried hair with shea and castor. However, my rinse out conditioner contains silicon and mineral oil -- these are a must for me in the tropics of Miami FL. ;) My natural hair is thick, long (scraping MBL) and healthy to the ends. Thanks to these oils, I also have lots of sheen.

Chone said...

Right now im using argan oil to seal, its ok but i want to try avocado oil (since I couldnt buy the butter) once it runs out. I've tried products with mineral oil and it dries MY hair out and shea has to be towards the end of the ingredients list in order for me to use a product that has it in it (it irritates my eyes)

Anonymous said...

I seal with my own oil mix, which consists of: castor oil, olive oil, monoi oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil. I recently purchased some wheatgerm oil to add to my mix, since I heard really good things about it. Hopefully, I will love it when I add it to my oil mix. I have nothing against mineral oil and silicone-based products, but I learned from personal experience that it is best to use those ingredients in a rinse-out conditioner, rather than in a leave-in. As a leave-in or sealant, they are too greasy and heavy for my fine strands, but they do control frizz and leave my hair shiny! Unfortunately, that is not enough to meet my criteria as a sealant.

To all the new naturals out there, you will need to experiment with various oils and sealants to find your perfect combination. Try to be open-minded. You never know, if mineral oil or silicone is great for your hair, until you try it. After trying it out, if you decide that you hate it, then you can speak from personal experience, rather than relying on the opinions of others.

-Foxyrou

Curlylocz said...

Shea butter/coconut oil mixture for my twistouts; almond oil for my wash and go.

Anonymous said...

I use plain ole Vaseline and love it! I'm a finehaired, 4a natural, well on my way to APL and my hair is thriving and retaining its length and growth like champ! I have viturally no SSKs, dryness or problems with my scalp. I tried all the other "natural" oils: coconut oil, hemp oil, shea butter, castor oil, etc and NONE of them sealed my hair as thoroughly as petroleum jelly. My hair is doing just great and I still co-wash instead of using shampoo! I do what works best for ME and encourage EVERY ONE to do the same!

Anonymous said...

My hair absolutely hates dimethicone it leaves it so dry. So I love coconut oil it leaves my hair soft & shiny. Grapeseed oil was to light for my thick strands my hair looks dull 10 minutes later so now I just use it on my skin.

Brooke B.

Anonymous said...

My hair absolutely hates dimethicone it leaves it so dry. So I love coconut oil it leaves my hair soft & shiny. Grapeseed oil was to light for my thick strands my hair looks dull 10 minutes later so now I just use it on my skin.

Brooke B.

Stephanie said...

Castor, Avacado, jojo, or grapeseed... Whatever I tend to grab. It's interesting his mineral oil is trending again. I like to keep it off the radar because it's derived from petroleum. Not adding that to my carbon footprint anymore. Besides Shea Oil, there aren't anymore natural non chemically processed oils that make the list? This makes me a little sad.

Anonymous said...

Recently I have been using Coconut oil or shea butter. Works well with my hair. As for the others, I had ran out. So i gotta hit the stores asap

Ashley L

Anonymous said...

Dont think im comfortable putting (essentially) gasoline and tile caulking on my body/hair...that's what is contributing to the spike in cancers and blood diseases...ijs

Anonymous said...

Although i am curious on how these natural products are being obtained...i hope we arent contributing to some civil war in the middle east or africa to get our shea butters,etc...#fairtrade #foodforthought

Anonymous said...

Number one I don't mind much, but number 2 I try and not have.

I am still ordering more oils. I don't like coconut oil much. If I remember right it make my hair too stiff and dry/greasy like. I am currently using Grapeseed and Kukui nut oil for sealing.
I may order Shea nut oil and Meadowfoam next. Jojoba and Camellia oil are always on my list, but the price keeps me away, lol.

Anonymous said...

O and I forgot castor oil also. Ano@9:19 sometimes I wonder also like sometimes where do and how they get some of these oils.

Anonymous said...

very useful
I prefer to use Diemethicone combine with cyclomethicone.

Regards
Yousuf

Hilary B. said...

I've been using shea oil to seal (emulsified butter) but I have to be careful 'cause I find that it tends to weigh my hair down.

Nicole La Toya Leonard said...

Coconut oil is full of protein, so if you find your hair is becoming brittle after using it, it is because your hair already had enough protein before you applied it. I learned that the hard way.

jessica said...

Is it safe to use dimethicone independantly as an anti-humidity and anti-frizz heat styler? Should it be mixed with some other ingredient or can it be used alone?

jessica said...

Is it safe to use dimethicone independently as an anti-humidity and anti-frizz heat styler? Should it be mixed with some other ingredient or can it be used alone?

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